Devon Cronje has predicted EFC stalwart Tumisang Madiba will gas and be choked out in their bantamweight scrap in Pretoria on March 16.
The pair will collide in the prelims of EFC 77, which is headlined by ex-lightweight champion Martin van Staden (26-11) battling Englishman Joe Cummins (5-1) for the vacant strap.
Cronje (3-1) expects somewhat of a wrestling match against Madiba (8-6) at Time Square, with both men enjoying recent wins at the venue on December 8, 2018.
Cronje submitted Orlando Machaba (0-1) for a second straight first-round victory, while Madiba snapped a three-fight skid with a third-round TKO of Billy Oosthuizen (3-1).
“It’s a very cool match-up stylistically, I’m very excited for this one,” Cronje tells mmaengage.com.
“It’s definitely going to be turned into a wrestling match with him gassing out and me choking him … a lot like the Faeez [Jacobs] fight.”
The 25-year-old is aware Madiba is an athletic fast starter, but insists he sees holes in ‘The President”s game that can be exploited.
“I think his only strength is he’s very aggressive for the first two minutes or so,” Cronje says,
“He’s got powerful takedowns, but making a lot of mistakes with the attempts. I definitely think I have a huge advantage in the wrestling and grappling aspect of the fight.”
Madiba, who trains under Walter Wendt at the Alberton Wrestling Club, is an experienced fan-favourite with name value. However, Cronje doesn’t feel the former featherweight is necessarily the toughest test on paper he’s faced to date.
“I think name-wise definitely, but I don’t think skill-wise he’s the best I’ve faced.”
Asked about his career ambitions, Cronje says he is simply focusing on building up his record for now and giving little thought to the belt, which is currently held by his Coach Quan University teammate JP Buys (6-2).
“I’m just here to fight and build a solid record. JP is champion in my division and that won’t change in April, so I’m not hunting any belts at the moment,” he says, referring to Buys’s title defence against interim champion Luthando Biko (5-1) in Cape Town on April 13.
Meanwhile, Cronje says there is a great energy at his gym in Johannesburg with so many of Richard Quan’s students set to feature in the EFC’s first card of 2019 next month.
Besides Cronje and Van Staden, contenders Alain ‘Commanda Boy’ Ilunga (11-5) and Roedie Roets (5-0) will also fight Łukasz Świrydowicz (4-4) and Pierre Botha (9-7) respectively.
“Training is excellent at the moment. Everyone is motivated coming into the new year, even the guys that are not fighting are all putting in the work and pushing each other. It’s definitely going to be a great year for our team.”